Should You Request Non-Smoking Contractors?

From on April 10, 2009 in Tools and Tips

no-smoking.jpgPhoto Credit: Xurble

The issue of smoking on the job site is ongoing and, arguably, growing even more intense as the nation takes on a generally negative approach to smoking. In my home state of Oregon, a statewide smoking ban inside public places and businesses just kicked in. It already exists in California and several other states.

If bars and restaurants are the front line in the No Smoking wars, will job sites be the last? Smoking and blue collar America have had a long relationship, but as the tides turn against smoking, many homeowners and general contractors are taking steps to eliminate our most famous (and damaging) guilty pleasure.

As a (recently) former smoker, I can certainly empathize with the smoking contingency. At the same time I’ve worked on many job sites, I’ve seen dozens of cigarette butts littering the ground and I can empathize with both the homeowner and their immediate environment. Now, the general rule in building construction is that there is no smoking within the residence as soon as the first sheet of drywall is hung.

That, to many, is a fair compromise, although the homeowner or general contractor can certainly trump all others. And many homeowners might prefer a contractor that does not allow smoking on his or her job sites. But is it simply smoke in the air that is bringing this argument to the forefront? Many argue economical reasons not to hire a smoking contractor.

They look at it this way: both the homeowner and contractor are losing money and production every time an employee or subcontractor steps outside to have a smoke. There is no denying that this can be a problem, especially for remodels, during which workers remain predominantly indoors. So the real dilemma boils down to a smoke-free environment versus a happy (and existent) workforce.

smoke-break.jpgPhoto Credit: momo81687

Some contractors feel that their workers would up and leave if forbidden to smoke throughout the course of the day. Indeed, for many of us, smoking and work go hand in hand. I myself can say that I’ve been on a job site that would, should smoking be eliminated, be a very unhappy place to work thereafter. On the other hand, many smoking bans are largely ignored outside the presence of authority.

It is important to note that history does not appear to be on the side of the world’s smokers regardless of profession.

Still, the real question at hand (and the title of this post) is should you hire a non-smoking contractor? That answer has more to do with personal preference. In terms of quality of work; a quality, well-respected contractor will be defined by his (and inherently his crew’s) work ethic, not on whether his subs or employees smoke. That’s because respect for the homeowner should always stand at the top of every employee’s list, and for established contractors it usually does, and smoking preferences adjust accordingly.

That being said, it all comes back to personal preference. If you, as a homeowner and temporary employer to an often large proportion of smokers, are opposed or even leery of smoking on your property or under your new roof, then you should definitely hire a non-smoking contractor or at least be aware of his or her job site smoking policy.

In the case of smoking versus non-smoking. Expect job sites in general to follow the national trend toward a more healthy life. Quite frankly, the more homeowners that request non-smoking contractors (or the less employees that smoke) the less of an issue this will become.